Home worker security when using personal IT equipment

Nathan Hill-Haimes

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    The trend towards home working has been accelerating ever since the emergence of the internet, however, due to recent global events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, there are now more employees working from home than ever before. There are many positives to this, just as there are many negatives, but one thing that cannot be tainted by subjective argument is the fact that businesses must now be even more vigilant in regard to cybersecurity.

    In order for employees to carry out a range of tasks, they will need to be hooked up to the company network, and this is where cybersecurity issues really get accentuated. Malware attacks generally have more success when they are aimed at home workers rather than office-based employees, however, due to the highly connected nature of the modern business world, one successful infection can spread rapidly, even if a business is completely made up of home workers. Here are a few tips and tricks to help businesses keep themselves secure when home workers are using IT equipment:

     

    Thoughtful young programmer coding on computer in the evening at home

     

    Follow company policy

    First and foremost, if your business already has a concrete policy for keeping its systems secure with home workers, it is essential that as much focus as possible is placed on this. Of course, this might sound like common sense, but it is scary to think how many employees around the world are trained in cybersecurity during their first few weeks at work, and then left to forget about all the relevant protocols afterwards.

    Any successful business will be determined to make sure all employees are directly following company policy when it comes to cybersecurity, but it can be harder to make sure that this is genuinely being put into practice when there are many people currently working from home. The first point of call, therefore, when solidifying your business's computer networks is simply to make sure all employees understand their responsibilities.

     

    phone update

    Update all devices whenever possible

    Malware and ransomware experts will know that the easiest devices to target with malicious software tend to be those that have not been updated because cybercriminals are constantly looking for software or firewall loopholes that can be exploited in older systems. For this reason, it is essential that all employees in a business are consistently making sure that their devices are kept as up to date as possible.

    So, next time you see a notification telling you the there are new updates ready to be downloaded and installed, don't just ignore it, as this could be the difference between a super-secure business network and one that is going to be prone to infection by things like malware and ransomware. It isn't hard to install the latest software and firmware whenever possible, and if you are using a device that is no longer able to be updated, you should consider discussing an upgrade with your employer for security reasons.

     

    Close-up dark keyboard with coding and programing concept

    Strong passwords are essential

    It goes without saying that all business employees should be super vigilant with their company passwords, and never disclose their password details regardless of the situation. However, unfortunately, this isn't always enough. Of course, your passwords must be kept secure, but it is also of paramount importance that they are strong enough from the offset.

    The most secure businesses will use password generators for their home workers, and these will also be changed regularly to add another layer of protection. It is also worth setting up two-factor authentication for business networks as it increases the level of protection, thereby keeping your business as secure as possible, something especially important for home workers.

    Stick to company approved software

    All employees working from home have to be extremely strict when it comes to their work devices, and should never, under no circumstances, install any software that has not been approved by their business. This might sound obvious, but not enough employees are vigilant with this, and many can accidentally download programmes that are not approved by the company in question.

    Therefore, it is important to check whether a piece of software has been approved by your company each time you download it, as this is the only way you can really be certain. Moreover, no home workers should ever use jailbroken devices for work, as this is a surefire way to attract malware and ransomware.

     

    Hand touching online network security  button and cloud, connection and contact concept

    Consistently run anti-virus software

    There are many anti-virus software providers around in the 21st century, and it is somewhat silly not to take advantage of these in your business. These are often the first point of defence when it comes to keeping your business secure from malicious software and computer viruses, so all companies should be making sure that their employees are consistently running anti-virus software.

    In fact, this is even more important in regard to home workers, as they will not have the anti-virus imperative that most offices have. It is therefore worth making sure that all employees have downloaded and installed anti-virus software on all of their devices.

    Use firewalls

    Homeworkers will naturally be connected to the overall business network while they are working, something that makes it even more important to use firewalls. These will prove invaluable in protecting your computers from any potential malware circulating around a company network, and if everybody is using firewalls, an infection doesn't tend to get too far.

    The good news is that most operating systems now include an in-built firewall, you just need to make sure that it is switched on.

     

    Technician walking in hallway of server room

    Regularly back up data

    Performing regular data backups is one of the easiest and most effective ways to mitigate the effects of malware infection, so it is essential for home workers if you want to keep your business secure. Not only does it mean that ransomware attacks can be rendered largely useless, but it also protects from external accidents, such as spilling hot coffee on your personal IT equipment.

    There is one thing to be careful of here, however, and that is to make sure none of your organisation's data is backed up to personal storage space, with cloud-based storage being the correct option.

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